News of the departure of Marcin Budkowski from the FIA's Formula 1 technical department with immediate effect has sparked concern among teams in the paddock.
The Polish-born aerodynamicist resigned from his post as head of the FIA's Formula 1 technical department earlier this week. He had been appointed to the role in February.
While Budkowski's plans are unknown, speculation in the paddock in Malaysia strongly links him with a switch to Renault in 2018.
Renault issued a firm no comment on the matter on Friday. But rival teams are apparently convinced that a deal has already been signed with the French manufacturer.
In the meantime, Budkowski has been placed on three months ‘gardening leave’. That means he can't take on a new role in the sport for that period, until January 2018.
His contract with the FIA was issued under Swiss law, which doesn't allow for longer enforceable notice periods than three months. It leaves the governing body unable to insist on any more time on the sidelines for the 40-year-old.
In a brief statement, an FIA spokesman said that Budkowski's duties would be assumed by race director Charlie Whiting.
Earlier this week, Whiting sent a note to teams telling them not to send Budkowski any further information and questions relating to current and future car designs.
Even with a three-month delay, teams are worried about Budkowski's previous access to highly sensitive technical information. That confidential insight could give any team a big research and development advantage over its rivals.
Teams are reported to see this is a question of how much they can trust the FIA itself in future. Sky Sports F1 reported that representatives of F1's Strategy Group met in Sepang this morning to discuss the matter.
"This is all about trust," a senior team source told Motorsport.com. "We cannot give out information if there is a chance other teams can get hold of it. If there is that risk, then we will have to keep everything secret."
Budkowski arguably knows more about the current state of technical development in Formula 1 than anyone else in the sport. He was responsible for checking that teams were not doing anything outside of the rules.
He was also one of those officials involved in drafting the new regulations introduced at the start of this season.
Previously to joining the FIA in 2014, Budkowski worked for Prost, Ferrari and McLaren in various engineering and aerodynamic roles.